I’ve always heard if you live long enough, you learn to accept death as a fact of life. I learned to grieve when I was 17, again at 23, over the years I’ve lost close friends, family members, and in 1999, I lost my dad. Till this day, I still live with grief, as I’m certain the victims families of 9-11 have learned to grieve, come to terms with it, and to move on from the grief.
After playing with my dogs, the phone rang. I rushed to answer it.
“Are you watching the news?” My husband asked.
“No. Not today…it’s always about politics and so much B-S, I decided I didn’t want to listen to the latest political games today.”
“Turn it on,” he warned. “A plane crashed into the World Trade Center.”
“How can that happen?”
Little did I know I would quickly figure it out for myself. I turned the TV on MSNBC, listening to the latest news as it developed. We didn’t have Tweets, or Facebook, or if we had social media, I didn’t use it, so I listened while my dogs barked to go outside.
Moments later, as the TV camera blasted the fires and smoke plumes in the World Trade Center, I watched another plane rip into the next tower. “Oh, my God…” I screamed. “America is under attack. Someone has proclaimed war on us and we are defenseless.”
I had no idea how true my thoughts were.
America lost more than anyone can imagine on 9-11, not only innocent victims of an unexpected, unanticipated attack and war that tore into our hearts and souls. We lost our safety. Not only at the World Trade Center, but the Pentagon was attacked, the White House was scheduled to be attacked, and when Americans overtook one of the planes a field in Pennsylvania became a burial ground for that plane and all of its victims.
That warm, cozy feeling we once felt when we planned trips, hopped on planes and entered venues that now we must enter with caution. Gone are the days of simply walking into an entertainment venue, an airport, or other buildings without having our handbags searched, our pockets emptied, and occasionally a stranger will search us, so we can enter or enjoy the event. While I do not mind being ‘strip searched’ — at times I do feel annoyed that because of terrorists and the hatred they feel for Americans — we must allow complete strangers to search us and our belongings. We are limited to what we can pack and carry on airplanes, and we are cautious when we see strangers leaving objects alone — even IF for a second. Suspicious characters leave me curious. I suppose I lost a bit of trust after 9-11. I am cautious when I open the door to my home. When I shop alone, I am constantly looking behind me. None of this occurred until after 9-11. When I fly, I have butterflies in my stomach, and I am cautious, constantly looking to observe what is going on. Never do I sleep on a plane. I want to be aware — of everything!
But — those of you who know me say — you were not a victim. Yes, that is true, but I am an American and it is my duty to do all that I can to keep our world safe.
Today, at exactly 8:46am, I lit a candle and said a prayer for 9-11 — not today, but the 9-11 that took away our safety and so many lives. Yes, we are still a free nation, but so much of our freedom has been threatened. Today, we are still at war in Afghanistan. The Endless War is what I refer to it since we have been fighting it for such a long time, and we really do not have a definitive date as to when this war will end, or if. We have lost too many of our soldiers, and we will continue to lose more. I can’t help but ask — are we better for this war? The only accomplishment I have seen is Osama bin Laden is no longer alive, thanks to our military achieving this mission.
Today, I give thanks that America is still free. The cost for freedom has been astronomical — in dollars, life, livelihoods, trust and safety. Today, I say thank you to our military, our firefighters, police and medical personnel, and all of our public citizens who work so hard to keep America free, safe and alive.
May we never, EVER, forget 9-11-01. Yes, we have moved forward, to build better, stronger buildings, a way to express to those who want to destroy us that America is a Nation that will not crumble. While those terrorists destroyed the buildings, destroyed so many lives, and took so much from all of us, I still see an image in my mind that I shall never forget. Almost daily, I see a man carrying a gigantic cross with his body along the streets of Mt. Pleasant, North Charleston, and other suburbs of the beautiful City of Charleston, SC. He reminds me of the many images I’ve seen of Jesus hanging on the cross. Another image inside my mind was an image of 9-11 as I drove to the West Ashley section of Charleston to attend a writers group meeting. There on Highway 17 a young boy stood parading a gigantic United States Flag. He sang the National Anthem and he walked with pride. Perhaps our nation was wounded, but we were going to survive. That is one dynamic fact about Americans…perhaps we get just a bit consumed with our daily lives…and maybe there are times we are skeptical to reach out to others, but when there is a crisis — regardless what it is — a death, a tornado, a hurricane, or an attack on America — we gather together to stand tall! After all, we are the United States of America. 9-11 changed us in many ways for the better. A wake up call to teach us to appreciate life, and that life is short, we have learned to appreciate the little things in life. Sometimes it takes a tragedy to snap us back into attention, but when we do — we rise to the occasion — for the Better!
We will not forget 9-11 — EVER! May God keep us safe, and may we appreciate how special and short our lives are. We must live for the moment, giving thanks that we have lived a life of enrichment for our nation. Let us never forget 9-11.